Thursday, October 11, 2007

Getting back on the bike: The Return of Back Pedal Brakes

I heard about a great piece of design a couple of weeks ago. It’s a new bike that has just been launched in the US. In fact, it’s an anti-bike. The Trek Lime has 3 basic gears, and the braking is via that old chestnut - pedal backwards. Over the past 5 years, bikes have become totally driven by technology and apparently, only aimed at slim, lean, ultra fit athletes. Lance Armstrong has a lot to answer for. Whatever happened to the onion seller’s bike in France, or the postman’s bike in rural England? Well Ideo, of all places, has helped design a bike that is actually designed for people who don’t ride them, i.e. practically everyone. I’ve ridden a bike for years but have stopped lately because it has become hardcore, intimidating and technically beyond my reach. 30-speed titanium bikes with bicycle seats that slipped into places they had no right to go were not for me. Now we’ve got a bike that looks like a bike. For a start, it has automatic shifting technology which triggers in when you hit 7 miles per hour and at 11 miles per hour alongside the back pedaling coasting brakes. There is even a chain guard to keep oil and grease off your pants and legs. And listen to this, the bike shop staff were sent to Sephora to see how customers were treated and how to build empathy. To cap it off, prices were halved to around $500. I’ve ordered a $580 Trek Lime for delivery over the next 3 months, and guess what? The well rounded seat is like a briefcase; plenty of room for your keys and your [iPod]. What’s not to like.

And speaking of liking, as you know, a favorite journo of mine is Linda Tischler who works for Fast Company. She just interviewed Philippe Starck on his formula for creativity. "Every morning take Royal Jelly and Omega 3 oil, eat oysters and have a good sex life. Don't care about anything, and never listen to anybody. Be free." You heard it here first.


Susan Plunkett said...

I've never ridden a push bike. They failed to have one big enough with training wheels.

I believe Churchill was asked how he slept during the war. He replied along the lines of (and I paraphrase).. "every night I think bugger them and I can sleep".

I also think one can say just about anything (and be congratulated for it) when well known.

Piotr Jakubowski said...

" bicycle seats that slipped into places they had no right to go were not for me"

This just made me fall out of my chair.

Who would have ever thought that sometimes technology could become too intimidating? In terms of cellphones, I've always wanted a cellphone without a camera that makes phonecalls. Can't get one of those anymore. Now you have 10,000 different features that you don't even know how to access, let alone use. Just give me a phone that makes calls please.

Same with the bike. Unless your first name starts with Lance, why do you need a 3,000 bike with 30 speeds that could save your energy expenditure by 5% per gear?

Some of these bike companies should learn something from those Dutch. Plain and simple bikes for transportation, to get from A to B.

Andy said...

Hi KR,

I'd like to bring to your attention a bike sharing scheme that has taken off in various European cities.

In Paris Velib' ( has place 10,000 easy-to-ride push bikes around the city for anybody to use. You simply become a member online or at one of the many kiosk's and you're free to make use of the bikes.

They are designed much like the Trek bike that you have just purchased.

Every major city should have the same set up. It's easy, it's green and it gets you 'Back on the bike'.

Miss Plunket - it's never too late to learn (anything).


Andy said...

Here is a better link (in English) that I found on Springwise

My girlfriend are going to explore Paris by bike tomorrow.


Susan Plunkett said...

Well Andy... lead me to a Harley Trike and I think we'll be cooking :)